Read the original MassLive article by Pete Goonan here.
SPRINGFIELD — Strongly supported by Mayor Domenic J. Sarno and the City Council, the police department will pursue state accreditation, a process aimed at providing a thorough evaluation and ensuring standards.
The city recently advertised for applicants for a new accreditation manager who will manage the police department’s accreditation process through the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Committee.
“This is an initiative we have been pursuing in a continued effort to reassure the public’s trust and our accountability,” Sarno said. “I deeply appreciate our police officers’ continued brave and dedicated efforts to keep our streets and neighborhoods safe.”
The council voted to support the move for state accreditation, and ultimately to seek national accreditation, in a unanimous vote on Monday. National accreditation would be sought through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.
The council resolution stated in part that accreditation "would send a clear and on-going message to our dedicated Police Officers, the majority of whom serve the people of Springfield with honor and distinction, and to the public, that we are holding ourselves to the highest possible established standards."
There has been some controversy surrounding the police department recently, including police misconduct allegations and an ongoing federal civil rights investigation.
Cheryl Clapprood, Springfield’s acting police commissioner, pledges to give her all to the job for as long as she has it
Clapprood serves at the discretion of Mayor Domenic Sarno. She said she does not know how long that will be.
Standards for national accreditation provide the framework for the state accreditation program including areas such as: agency authority and use of force; recruitment and promotion of personnel; training, discipline and internal affairs, investigations; emergency response planning; and records and communication, the Massachusetts commission states on its website.
Councilor Jesse Lederman, who was the lead sponsor of the council resolution, said the posting of the manager position shows the city is taking the process seriously. The job description lists the annual salary as ranging from $55,015.47 to $71,547.32.
“This process will allow for an intensive review of the department’s policies and procedures to ensure they are in line with national and international best practices in law enforcement, and puts in place a framework for consistent evaluation on a regular basis,” Lederman said in a news release. “Over time, this will allow us to demonstrate to both our officers and the public that we are holding ourselves to the highest possible standards in law enforcement and public safety.”
Other sponsors were Councilors Orlando Ramos, Melvin Edwards, Adam Gomez and council President Justin Hurst.
Nearing 50 years at 130 Pearl St.,
Ryan Walsh, a spokesman for the police department, said acting Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood is continuing the move for accreditation.
But he said the department will not be able obtain accreditation without building a new police station. Police headquarters on Pearl Street is nearly 50 years old and was described by former Commissioner John Barbieri as “shabby” and “depleted.”
There is a proposal for replacing the building at an estimated cost of $85 million, with major state funding assistance needed.
The new accreditation manager would serve as the city’s chief liaison to the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission. Primary duties include “reviewing, editing, amending and/or developing agency written directives (rules and regulations, policies and procedures, etc.) to comply with certification/accreditation standards,” the job description said.
The council resolution stated that “public trust and positive community police relations is pivotal to ensuring public safety and justice in our community, ensuring that all residents are comfortable interacting with the police, reporting crime, and partnering to build our community.”